Make a media splash after the Games and you might sink without trace, medal winner warns athletes

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Britain's Olympic heroes who become seduced by a celebrity lifestyle are placing their future sporting success at risk, one of the London Games' medal-winners has warned.

Robbie Grabarz, who won bronze in the high jump, said that athletes who pursue lucrative careers in reality television at the expense of their training routines would get their "comeuppance" when they return to competition.

Grabarz's warning follows criticism of Tom Daley, the teenage diving star, who is currently starring in the ITV celebrity diving series, Splash!

David Sparkes, the chief executive of British Swimming, told the bronze medal winner that his burgeoning television career was jeopardising his future as an elite athlete.

Grabarz told Radio Times: "It's weird seeing on TV all these people you went to training camps with. I mean, people have launched minor celebrity careers off the back of last summer; it's all very surreal, but it doesn't really bother me."

The athlete, 25, added: "You can't hide in track and field. If they want to continue with their athletics career then they will get their comeup- pance come the summer, which will either make them pull their fin-ger out and come back in 2014, or they'll disappear."

Louis Smith, the gymnast who won Strictly Come Dancing and Daley are among the medal-winners who have taken advantage of the media opportunities their success has generated.

Grabarz argued: "I never did high jump because I wanted to be famous. I can't imagine anything worse, in my opinion. But I know some people see all the attention after London as a kind of escape from athletics.

"This celebrity lifestyle that seems so easy and so wonderful, they want it and they go for it. The negative comes, of course, when those people let trying to be famous distract them from their training."

But Grabarz's Team GB colleagues may be surprised by his comments, given his own television appearances since the Games. He was one of a number of medal winners who took part in the BBC's Christmas revival of the cult 70s series, Superstars.

"Superstars was the one thing I had to do, no matter what," Grabarz said. "I told my coach I was going to be away filming for the weekend and we just fitted it into my schedule. I'm glad I did it; I don't think I've laughed so much since I was at school! I'm only human, after all. I'd go mad if I didn't let myself go a bit."

Daley's mother, Debbie, rejected criticism of her son's coaching role on Splash!, telling Sparkes that Tom was "one of the few major success stories for British swimming this summer... and possibly one of the athletes that helped you retain your job". Daley went straight back to training for five weeks to prepare for the junior world championships after the Games, his mother said.

Grabarz, Britain's number one high jumper, lost his Lottery funding before the Games, but has now been restored to UK Athletics' top-level funding list.

He receives a personal income of up to £27,737 a year as well as around £55,000-worth of training and health support but relies on prize money from his performances international meetings to top up his earnings.

"Financially, being on the UK Athletics funding list relieves all pressure," he explains. "It means I'm not afraid to say no if some offer away from athletics comes in that I don't want to do."

Olympic celebrities life after London

Tom Daley

Marked out as a future media star after posing with Kate Moss at a photo shoot for Italian Vogue aged 15. TV career beckons after coaching role on hit celebrity diving show Splash! despite concern over outside commitments.

Bradley Wiggins

Installed as a mod icon after Tour de France and Olympic triumphs, "Wiggo" recorded a BBC 6Music radio special with musical hero Paul Weller and joined him on stage at Hammersmith Odeon to strum through Jam song 'That's Entertainment'.

Jessica Ennis

Awarded Brand Personality of the Year at the Marketing Society annual dinner last year, the heptathlon champion is set to earn £2m from endorsements including Olay, Jaguar and British Airways. Will she sell picture rights to her spring wedding?

Anthony Ogogo

Bronze medal-winning boxer is a semi-professional model who posed naked for Attitude magazine and appeared in Celebrity Big Brother. Tweeted his embarrassment at wearing skimpy trunks for role in Splash!

Louis Smith

Topless performance on Strictly Come Dancing took the glitterball prize. Double 2012 medal-winning gymnast will now join the Strictly tour and bring his flamboyant dress sense to new BBC quiz, I Love My Country.

Luke Campbell

Gold medal-winning bantamweight boxer answered the call to take part in ITV's Dancing On Ice where he survived a public vote this week. Admitted he feared a wrist injury in the show could end his boxing career.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there